I was looking at the little collection of heart – shaped stones that I have gathered from the beach, whilst walking the dog. And I wondered “why hearts?” And I thought about my latest book, of which I am very proud, and which just so happens to be a contemporary love story… and I thought “how odd”, given that I don’t have a romantic bone in my body!
But suddenly, it clicked: I DO believe in romance… and my version is very much tied up with friendship. I mentioned the subject to my youngest daughter, who is 24, but she didn’t see it exactly the same way, and I realised that romance probably means different things to different people, at different stages in their lives. However, we both agreed that ‘forced’ romance, such as Valentine’s Day, is unappealing, and she laughingly told me that when she was employed as a waitress, she enjoyed working on Valentine’s Day because it was guaranteed that at least one couple would end up arguing! I said that was probably because of ‘disappointed expectation’, and that maybe those couples would have been better off spending the evening at home in their pyjamas, with a bottle of wine and a take – away (or apart, dependent upon the actual state of the relationship!).
I do believe that my work has played a big part in convincing me that I had become completely devoid of any romantic notions or feelings… along with my own life choices and experiences, of course. I spend a huge portion of my working life looking into other people’s love lives (or lack of), and a lot of it ain’t pretty. And I have seen how easily the desire, the expectation, and the demand for romance can lead to misery and disappointment… but IS that romance, or something else entirely?
I have concluded that, for me, the stereotypical version of romance is embarrassing. Sitting opposite a partner in an overly decorated restaurant on Valentine’s Day, trying to ‘feel it’ and behave accordingly, is really hard work, and causes me to feel like an idiot. I enjoy the company, and the food, but that’s all. By the end of the evening we are leaving, me clutching a long – stemmed red rose that was kindly supplied by the restaurant, too full to do anything other than drive home and collapse onto the couch or into bed. But that’s probably just us, a pair of past – it old farts.
However, I have noticed that a huge number of people, mostly young women, appear to confuse sexual tension with romance. If it’s all intense and highly charged, then it is romantic and exciting… and their expectations soar, like ecstatic birds finally freed from a cage… birds that often end up being brutally shot down.
I have also noticed that romance appears to be something that men are expected to do to or for women, and that they tend to either do it spectacularly well, or pathetically badly. Which is probably one of the reasons men, especially those who are self – conscious, shy away from obviously romantic acts wherever possible. It doesn’t always mean that they don’t care… it just means that they are terrified of getting it wrong, or looking stupid.
So, back to my little book (You Wear It Well, available on Amazon Kindle, plug, plug, plug). I fell in love with the characters as I was creating them (well, in truth, they created themselves), and when I knew that I was about to drop a bombshell on the two main characters, I cried, and couldn’t bring myself to write that bit, for several days. And I realised that that was because they genuinely LIKED each another. They didn’t just fancy one another, they delighted in discovering things, such as Stevie’s love of 70’s and 80’s rock, and that she collected old vinyls, which she played on her record player. And the fact that Nick used to be the lead singer in a rock band, something he still does occasionally. He told his mate that being with his ex was akin to being alternately burned and stung, whilst being with Stevie was like being immersed in warm honey. I was impressed. Coming from a 34 year old biker, that was a pretty romantic notion. Of course, her didn’t say that to Stevie… but to me, the fact that he was willing to share this little nugget with his mate, showed that he was ‘feeling it’, and was willing to risk being laughed at by a fellow biker dude. Now, THAT’S romantic!
Yesterday, I was in my office at my partner’s house, working through my list of email consultations. He quietly tapped on the door with a cup of tea and a hot water bottle, in case my feet were cold. The little dog next door, who is hyper – sensitive and hates being left alone, was howling and barking, and the noise became so difficult to ignore, I decided to go into the bedroom to work, and thought I was might as well get under the quilt (the perks of working from home!)… and he appeared again with a second hot water bottle, in case the first one was getting cold. And it struck me that these kinds of acts are MY version of romance. My daughter disagreed; she said that she thought that that was love, rather than romance, which brings me back to my earlier point of romance representing different things to different people, at different times in their lives. I do a lot for my partner, too. Practical and financial stuff, as well as emotional. We have worked incredibly hard on this relationship, over a period of 12 years, and there are still occasions on which I could cheerfully smother him in his sleep with a pillow (and vice versa, I imagine). He has bought me flowers in the past, which I appreciated, but that didn’t touch me anywhere near as much as him going out to warm the car up and clean the windscreen for me. Or him insisting on doing the jobs I hate, like cleaning the car. Or tidying out a bedroom, and organising it into an office for me. Or cooking my lunch, and supplying me with mugs of tea, whilst I am working. I was with my first ex husband for 11 years, and he gave me the one and only bunch of flowers he ever thought about buying, on the day after I left him. The flowers didn’t matter. The fact that he bought my Christmas present from the local shop, ON Christmas day (a few bags of sweets), and the fact that I did everything from the housework and cooking, and decorating our home, to turfing the garden, to clearing out the cellar and then dragging everything to the tip, ALONE, whilst he sat on his backside or went to the pub, negated the flowers. I wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, AND I became the mother in the relationship, and he became the child, which isn’t sexy (or as I like to say, isn’t rock and roll). A whole field full of flowers wouldn’t have had the power to fix what was a completely broken situation, never mind a single bunch.
So, you can see, the question ‘romance – what is it really about?’ doesn’t have a one – size – fits – all answer. It can mean anything to anyone. I remember, many years ago, on a Valentine’s day, watching a woman walk up my garden path with an enormous bunch of flowers in her arms, and my heart lifted. At the time I was married, with two small children, and we were more than skint… we were two steps away from destitution. I remember wondering how this was possible… WHERE did he get the money from, for such a beautiful bouquet. And I also remember thinking how out of character it was for him, too. I opened the door with a huge smile, and the woman said “I have tried to deliver these next door, but no – one is home. Can I leave them with you, until she gets back?” I said “absolutely, no problem”, when in reality I wanted to beat her over the head with the darned things, and then shove them where the sun don’t shine. I was soon to discover that the ‘lucky’ gal next door’s knight in shining armour was a married man, and that she spent many evenings in miserable loneliness. So much for romantic gestures.
Finally, I have to say that, like everything on this planet, romance can be used for the good or for the not – so – good. Romance can be a destructive force, in the wrong hands. The desire for it can come loaded with self – entitlement, idealistic thinking, and unreasonable expectation. It can be used to lure someone in, for our own selfish reasons…. oozing flattery and attention, in order to either get something we want from another person, or to feed our own ego until we get bored, moving swiftly on to the next target. I actually think that my daughter was right. What I described as romantic gestures, she called love. But isn’t THAT what romance is actually supposed to be about? And my answer to the question ‘why is romance important?’ would be “because it comes from a place of emotional intimacy… the very glue that binds two partners together – through the good times, the indifferent times, and the times when we look at each other and think ‘sleep with one eye open tonight – DARLING!”. Long live romance, I say!
A woman emailed me recently, pleading for a consultation, and pouring out a tale of woe about her love life. However, she didn’t want to pay for it UNTIL she’d had the results she desired, because, she complained, she had already spent thousands of dollars on ‘spell casters’… and still the man she was desperate to reunite with was blocking her at every turn. Her email was awash with all of the things she wanted from this man, and all of the ways in which she wanted him to behave. I felt sorry for her, because she was clearly in a huge amount of emotional pain, but there was absolutely no way to help her. What she wants is never, ever going to happen, no matter how much money she spends, and no matter how many spells are cast. And I will explain why.
She is operating from a completely repellent energy field, created by fearful and manipulative intention. Her motivation is incredibly unhealthy, and has nothing to do with love. She has fallen into a dark pit of need, which is being fed by the raw pain of rejection. She has no interest in the well – being or happiness of the man who is doing his best to avoid any form of contact with her, and the ongoing rejection is pushing her further and further down into miserable obsession. She is blocking the light from her own life, and preventing herself from attracting the very thing she desires with every ounce of her being… to be in a loving, healthy, supportive relationship with a man who values and adores her. She is chasing the wrong dream, wishing the wrong wish… it is not the man she wants, it is love. And she clearly has no love at all for herself, because her words and actions are outer evidence of a belief that the only way she can possibly be loved is to demand, force and manipulate it. ‘All I want is…’ and ‘I just want my wish to come true’ was repeated again and again throughout her email. Her mental, emotional and physical focus is so strongly on the fact that she wants wants wants, wishes wishes wishes, she is entrapping herself, and she will continue to go round and round in the same miserable loop until she breaks it… and consciously creates a healthier, more loving and positively attractive energy field. Right now she can’t see that, and is unlikely to be open to anything other than what she wants to hear, and anyone who gets too close to her is going to be in trouble.
The good news is that she doesn’t have to remain in this self – imposed emotional hellhole. The law of attraction doesn’t care whether she does or not, but life does care (or God, the Universe, whatever name you want to give it). It will keep poking her, pushing her, nudging her, towards awareness, towards ‘aha’ moments, towards realisation. Life wants her to have what it is that she actually, truly wants and desires, but she has to learn how to use the creative tool that is the law of attraction, in the most appropriate way for the life she wants to live. The law of attraction itself is indifferent; it doesn’t analyse and choose – it responds, and it takes us literally.
Her email reminded me to double check my own current relationship with the law of attraction, and I realised I was slipping a bit in one area of my life! I am now consciously addressing that by fine – tuning my attitude, and taking appropriate action. You see, we are always a work in progress, and ongoing tweaking is an absolute must! Well, it is if we want to have some say over how we feel, and the direction our life is taking. If we remember that the law of attraction is a creative delivery service that doesn’t question our order, we’re more likely to be careful about what we give it to work with! Is there anything about your own current attitude and approach that you suspect could do with tidying up a bit, in order to attract more productive results, and gain fresh momentum? Is there anything you are dithering about, knowing you need to make a decision and take action? Are you struggling with inertia, promising yourself that you’ll give yourself a push tomorrow, next week, next year? Are you blaming circumstance, running critical dialogue through your mind, over and over? CAN you think better, feel better, and consciously and consistently improve your communication with the law of attraction? Absolutely… so start right now, this second!#loa
I see so many people with so much potential that is never going to see the light of day! I ‘tune’ in to customer after customer, seeing and feeling within their energy field wonderful possibilities… and yet they believe themselves to be completely stuck, with limited options. I wish I knew how to change that, to find the button to press, or the switch to flick… I wish I could save them from themselves!
Everyone has something valuable and precious within them, but ‘sensible’ society doesn’t allow for that. Oh no, you mustn’t waste your life on dreams, you just need plan for a secure future… that’s the smart thing to do, that’s what’s expected of you.
I know a woman who’s wanted to create and develop her own business for YEARS… but she always has an excuse as to why ‘now isn’t the right time’. She has talent, wonderful social skills, intelligence… but she is terrified of taking a chance, or risking what she calls her security. And so she has continued to work in a poisonous environment, amongst negative people who consistently focus on the woes of life, and she is miserable. I have wished so many times that I could help her to get beyond the fear, but I can’t, because it is an inside job.
I truly understand the need to be able to provide for ourselves. I have been self – employed for over 20 years (no holiday or sick pay, and no pension) and was the the main breadwinner for a long period of time, until the children were grown and making their own way in life. I have been, as they say in Liverpool, on the bones of my arse many, many times, so I am not preaching from an ivory tower. And I am not saying that everyone should be self – employed; it isn’t for everyone. However, life shouldn’t be all or nothing, black or white. What if we continued to do what it takes to earn a living, whilst investing a consistent amount of time and effort in the exploration and development of something we’d love to do more of, to become better at… possibly with a view to turning it into something lucrative in the future?
And even if we don’t initially set out to create a future business, surely we would benefit from developing our interests and skills? Imagine how great it would feel to produce that patchwork quilt you’d always dreamed of creating. See yourself putting the finishing touches to a wedding cake you’d made from scratch… after researching designs and colours, trying out a few recipes, practising with smaller cakes. How good would it feel to teach yourself how to use technology in a more productive way, by watching Youtube videos and reading books or online articles? How about building up a portfolio of ideas for interior design, because you love to decorate and arrange rooms, and you know you have a creative eye? You might be really good at organising others, getting things done, cleaning… and yet completely dismiss those skills as unimportant! And you might very well say “I don’t have time!” But would that be strictly true? For a small handful of people, maybe, but not for most. One hour a day, week in and week out, can make a massive difference. Imagine what you could have learned, created and achieved within weeks or months of cutting back a little on Facebook or the soaps?
What if you want to break free of a restrictive situation, or a destructive relationship, but you convince yourself that you can’t because you won’t be able to cope or manage, and that you don’t have the ability to do what needs to be done? Are you going to remain forever stuck, head down, hoping that it will all suddenly and magically improve? What if you decided to start taking small, consistent steps outside of your current mindset and routine, showing yourself what you are actually capable of, when you really put your mind to it? You might even find that your situation improves, and that you feel better about it… because you have increased your sense of self – worth, and have a more hopeful view of your own future.
Whatever you believe to be true about yourself, you can bet your bottom dollar that you are not being as realistic as you think you are, in your personal assessment! You are probably judging yourself far more harshly than you need to, thus preventing yourself from developing talents, skills and passions that could make a difference not only to your life, but to the world!
And on that note, I am now going to promote myself! I am, as many of you will know, exploring my writing skills, with a view to becoming a full time writer… even if it takes 10 years! I have had to teach myself how to do a whole host of things, and I am still only on the bottom rung of the ladder! So, to you budding writers out there, PUT PEN TO PAPER (or fingers to keyboard) and write something, even if it’s only a few lines, every day. Don’t over – analyse it, just write. And then dare to put it OUT THERE! Research and listen to other writers, but don’t become bogged down by all of the ‘experts’. I can tell you, whether it is self – help, business or something creative, there are zillions of know – it – all’s out there who will convince you that you need 24 hours a day and a zillion pounds, just to get started. If you listen, you won’t ever get started. To paraphrase the great Les Brown: a thing is worth doing badly until you know how to do it well! Here is a link to my ebook Daniel Beyond Death, on Amazon, for the princely sum of 99p. Newbies on Amazon have to start at the bottom, in order to attract buyers/readers, and so it is not a get – rich – quick kind of thing… well, for most of us, anyway. You never know – you might be the exception to the rule!
I know thousands and thousands of people win the standard £25 on the lottery every week, and some win regularly. I have not been one of those people, for a very long time, until last week. I celebrated my £25 win as if it was a million, and I put the little slip of paper that tells you you are a winner, in my purse.
And my win followed three lucky dips. I just knew, on that Wednesday morning, that I had won something on the lottery. I opened my laptop before I even got out of bed, typed in my numbers, and up came ‘you have winning matches’…yes!
Okay, £25 is peanuts to some people, and they’d say “Big deal, so what?” The £25, although gratefully accepted, is not the issue here. It is the fact that I went from having one number come up, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out, to two numbers three times in a row… to three numbers! I see that as real progress, and evidence I am heading in the right direction!
And I know that some will say that wanting to win the lottery is not ‘spiritual’, is greedy, and that money can’t buy happiness. I used to be one of those people, and a fat lot of good it did me. And a fat lot of good it did for those I would dearly love to help, and for my dreams that required a bit of cash. There is nothing wonderful about scraping by, but I am grateful for the experience. I always find I appreciate something more when I know what it feels like to be without it. I have had times when I have had a bit more money, and I can say with hand on heart that it made life a lot easier and more fun.
I began to consciously work on my attitude towards ‘free’ money. I realised that there are millions and millions of pounds out there, every second of every day, just waiting to be given away, whether through the National Lottery or some other source. I said “I’ll have some of that!” and I meant it…why not me, why not you? I have to be consistent in that thinking, however, because it is easy to slip back into old ways, to focus all of our attention on every day living and surviving. Getting by can be a very seductive mindset, because it has served us for years, has allowed us to just about keep our forehead above water, and is familiar.
And of course it isn’t just money that is going for free out there. There are potential opportunities we might not even see, even though they are staring us in the face. There are ideas, absolutely for free, flowing through our mind, if only we’d pay attention. There are opportunities to learn from life at every twist and turn. And it’s ALL for free…let’s get out there and grab some of it for ourselves! I am going to continue to win the lottery in my mind, and to distribute and spend it in the way I have done, a zillion times, in my imagination. And I am going to be completely open to any and every wonderful opportunity I can attract, until the day I take my very last breath. There ain’t no time to waste!
I have put on weight. Two stone, over a period of 18 months. Some of it has gone on my face, some on my bum, but most of it has gathered around my middle, where it hangs like a half – cooked, dimpled doughnut. And I hate it.
My weight has increased because I have been eating more food, drinking more alcohol, and doing less physical exercise than I used to. I should actually weigh more than I do, given the amount I have been scoffing, and so I consider myself lucky to only be around 30lbs over my ideal weight. I do have a very busy life, I walk the dog every day, and I exercise sporadically. However, there is no denying the fact that I have let myself ‘go’, as they say, and I can only blame myself.
So why have I allowed this to happen? Am I just lazy and greedy? Is it down to my age? Maybe a little bit of both of those, but mostly it is psychological and emotional.
I always function better when there is something definite I am working towards, something I know I have half a chance of making happen, even if it means I scrape in at the very last second. I worked in advertising sales for years, and became target/goal oriented, selling my socks off and then tearing around like a maniac to get the copy in, with seconds to go before deadline (my supervisor regularly wanted to kill me). Working towards the achievement of a particular goal helped me to keep going when there were situations I couldn’t control, too. At a particularly difficult time in my life, I lost 4 stone in a short space of time, and I was ruthless in the process; walking for mile after mile, exercising, and going to bed hungry every night…I was absolutely determined. I kept that weight off for years, too, but looking back, I recognise that the pound shedding was something I had some degree of control over, at a time when so many things in my life seemed beyond my control.
Fast forward 12 years, and I weighed 7st 12lb. I could easily fit into my motorbike leathers, and despite having a little jelly – belly (that no amount of exercise could shift), I was fit and nimble, and didn’t overeat. It wasn’t hard for me to maintain this weight, it wasn’t a big effort. And going to periodic motorbike rallies was an incentive to me, as was riding my bike. This might seem silly to other people, but it was important to me. I could still go to rallies, of course, slim or chubby, but I really preferred being slim. But then my bike broke down, and my partner had an accident, badly breaking bones in his heel, meaning he could not work or ride HIS bike, which had developed an oil leak that seemed impossible to sort out. For months he was unable to walk, and so I was having to work extra hard to try and cover the income, as well as doing the stuff that he would normally do, such as cutting the grass and hedges, as well as having to do all of the housework and cooking etc. There were no bike rallies, and not enough money to repair my bike, and not much of a light at the end of that particular tunnel, as it became clear that his recovery was going to be a long one.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a pity – me story. We actually managed really well, and I was impressed by how much he pushed himself to do, on crutches, or hopping on one foot. But it all became about getting by, and I lost my charge, my motivation, where my weight was concerned. I started to reward myself with food and drink at the end of a long, busy day, and as the summer disappeared, so did my waistline. And then winter clothes covered up the developing blubber, and I just kept adding to it. This spring came and went, and he is a whole lot better, but still not able to walk properly over too long a distance. There is still not enough money to get the bikes sorted, and my beloved leather jacket and waistcoat are hanging in my office, colourful badges reminding me of happy times, and my heart lifts every time I walk through the door. “I’ll be back!” I promise them…”I WILL fit into you again!”
And today, 4th September 2017, I glanced at myself in the mirror whilst getting dressed, and felt sad. I recognised that the excess 2 stone is not just about weight, it is about hopes and dreams put on hold. It isn’t about food or diets or exercise, it is about hibernation. And of course none of this really makes sense, because it is about emotion, rather than logic. The weight stands between the old me and my bigger hopes and dreams. The weight is tied up with the idea of failure, in my illogical mind, and the sadness comes from the sense of being the child with its nose pressed up against the sweet shop window, longingly looking in without being able to enter. I could have made the effort to lose the dimpled doughnut, but somehow, weirdly, it became the doorkeeper. It had to stay until the other things I really wanted to do and be became possible. It became so tied up with them it couldn’t be released until I was in a position to make the headway I so wanted to. As I said, none of it makes sense, and I am now determined to break free of this frustrating catch – 22, shake off the layers and reclaim myself. The rest will follow.
I am not saying that no – one should carry extra pounds. I think curvy women look great (I am not curvy, I am apple shaped), and I prefer men with a bit of a build…I don’t even mind moobs. This is not about judgement. We each have our own sense of self, and we decide for ourselves how we want to look and feel and be. It’s always an inside job. Overeating is never about food, is it? It is about comfort, or reward, or habit. It is about self – protection, or self – sabotage. It is also about deflection. If I am honest, although I have been proud to have managed to keep going, I have also been disappointed to yet again be delaying some of the things I want to do. Rather than express that in the outer world, I have expressed it through comfort eating. But it really, really is time to sort it out, not for vanity’s sake, but for progression and forward movement. And for the clothes I haven’t worn for so long, packed away in bin bags in my wardrobe. And for my bike leathers. I am sixty years old this December, and I swear, I am going to ROCK my sixtieth year!
Is it possible to live in a spiritual way, in the modern world? Well, it depends upon what being ‘spiritual’ actually means to us…it is clear that different people interpret spirituality in different ways.
There are those who feel that being spiritual is completely connected to a belief in life after death, and/or psychic stuff.
There are those who feel that being spiritual means that they have to be endlessly calm and patient, never raising their voice or visibly reacting to the stresses and strains of life.
There are those who believe that not desiring more than they need, and settling for just enough to get by, is spiritual.
There are those who approach spirituality in a passive – aggressive way, using it as a platform from which they can put others down for failing to have reached their own lofty heights.
So, as you can see, there is no one – size – fits – all, where spirituality is concerned!
My personal belief is that the spirit should be free…as in free – spirited! If being spiritual is hard work, if it leads us to feel spiritually superior to others, if it causes us to feel repressed…then something is wrong because the spirit is designed to grow, to expand, to fly…not to be boxed off, trapped or stage – managed!
If we are performing spirituality, feigning it, in line with how we think it should be, it won’t feel right, somehow. It won’t be natural, or spontaneous, which is what the spirit is all about.
If we find ourselves being smug, because we have figured out how to be spiritual, whilst others haven’t, we aren’t coming from a free state of mind.
If we are consistently monitoring ourselves, editing our responses and behaviour, so as to remain spiritual, we are blocking our own natural flow.
And if we are doing any of the above, it is only because other people have told us that this is how being spiritual IS, or our own understanding is a bit skewed!
I want you to know that it IS possible to be a real, honest to goodness human being, warts and all, and still BE genuinely spiritual! In fact, that is the only way you CAN be truly spiritual, because then you will be being true to yourself! Good news, eh?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that by being true to ourselves we should indulge every urge we have, regardless. Some urges should definitely be reined in! An urge to hurt others, to control, manipulate, humiliate or get revenge comes from the ego, not the spirit. The spirit is more interested in healthy challenge, in positive use of the imagination, in productive achievement, in creativity…in life – force and forward movement. The spirit loves the stories of life, and is fascinated by even the small details. The spirit is about pushing the boundaries, whilst the ego is about setting them, and protecting them with every ounce of its being!
Of course, that all sounds a bit idealistic, and the truth is that the ego and the spirit need one another. The ego’s job is to keep us safe, to keep us on track. It does need to recognise where reasonable boundaries are required, and set them, so that the spirit is free to get on with doing its thing. The problem is, the ego has a tendency to get a bit too big for its boots, even pretending to BE the spirit, in some cases! It can become larger than the spirit, which appears to work well for some people…in the short term. Those who succeed by cutting major corners, by ripping others off, by stealing, threatening, lying…murdering even…might seem to be being unfairly rewarded for dubious behaviour, but they aren’t taking the soul into account.
Each human being is a soul, and we are alive to create, to grow, to develop…courtesy of the relationship between the ego and the spirit. The ego’s job is to watch the spirit’s back, as it embraces life, regardless of individual challenge. The soul absorbs everything the ego and the spirit create together, everything they experience, and the way in which they process it all. When the ego has the upper hand, the spirit cannot grow healthily, and in the end, the soul suffers. There is no exception…no – one flies beneath the radar. The soul cannot escape what the ego and the spirit create together, throughout a lifetime…it HAS to absorb it, and take it with it.
You have an amazing spirit that wants to develop its interests, passions and talents!
You have a spirit that wants to take each experience, each challenge, and discover the hidden gem within!
You have a wonderful uniqueness that wants to be expressed, in its own particular way!
You have a spirit that is not afraid to express itself, to speak its mind, to be firm but fair…to honour reasonable boundaries, without apology!
You have a spirit that doesn’t want to be dominated by a fearful, over – protective ego, or to be shut down by other people’s unreasonable, manipulative egos!
You have a spirit that is willing to learn, throughout a lifetime, how to develop a productive balance between itself and its compatriot, the ego!
You have a spirit that wants to make life good for others, and wonderful for yourself!
You have a spirit that wants to learn how to receive, and not just give, to accept compliments, embrace abundance and celebrate every little success!
You have a spirit that is keen to soothe the ego, when hurt and disappointment come to call, without allowing the ego to use the setback in a self – destructive way…turning the pain into its life story!
You have a spirit, therefore you ARE spiritual…and the best way to embrace that is to give yourself chance after chance to be the best, free – est version of yourself possible, regardless of what those around you think, say or do. Respect your ego, consult with it, but recognise when it is pushing its luck, and give it a polite but firm reminder!#spirit
Should we bow to criticism? Should we just suck it up and take it on the chin? And if we don’t, should we accept the response “Your problem is that you can’t stand to hear the truth”?
Well, in my opinion, it depends upon two things:
The motivation behind the criticism.
The way in which the criticism is delivered.
None of us are going to get through life without criticising others, or being criticised by others. And we have all reacted defensively, or been on the receiving end of someone else’s defensive behaviour. Excessively hypersensitive, over – reactive people are difficult to deal with, and we know, deep down inside, when we ourselves are being that way. We might not admit it, but we know it.
It may be that we have grown up around consistently critical people, and so have unconsciously learned to take even the smallest comment as a personal attack.
It may be that we find ourselves in a job that naturally attracts critical reaction, which over time leads us, if we aren’t careful, to become hypersensitive.
It may be that we are part of a social group who habitually judge and compete with one another.
It may be that we have painfully low self – worth, and wear our emotional nerves on the outside of our body.
The fact is, criticism and defensiveness go hand in hand. It takes a wise, honest soul to be able to deliver criticism in a constructive way that does not automatically elicit a defensive response. It is a skill very few of us possess, although it can be learned (am still working on it)! And a wise, honest person will never present a clearly aggressive, mean – intentioned comment as constructive criticism, and then use it against the recipient when they respond defensively. That’s a double whammy!
Motivation is THE thing to look at, when facing criticism, or considering delivering it. Passive – aggressive criticism is always going to lead to conflict, because the deliverer is always being dishonest. The intention behind passive – aggressive criticism is to wound, to crush, to put the recipient down, whilst presenting it as well – meant ‘advice’. And this is proved when the recipient, understanding that they are being undermined, responds defensively, or openly challenges the deliverer,…and the critic swiftly verbally lashes back, cutting through the pretence of positive motivation! Which is where statements like “You just can’t take the truth can you? I’m not the only one who says this stuff about you” is thrown in, like a hand grenade.
Criticism is entirely necessary in this life. We can’t all go around pretending we never do anything wrong, or that we always get everything right. And it provides us with a great opportunity to become more mentally, emotionally and spiritually mature…IF we are consciously aware of the power it holds, and commit to learning to use it wisely. It takes conscious awareness and effort, and a willingness to learn to respond, rather than react.
I would rather have an up – front approach, than one that is passive – aggressive. However, that doesn’t mean I will just take it on the chin…delivery is all – important! People who send critical emails that don’t begin with Hi Leanne, or end with the recipients name, just the message itself, are being pretty upfront about their intentions…”I am putting you in your place!” It is when these come from people I believe I have been genuinely respectful to and open with, especially those with whom I have had ongoing business, that it wounds the most (bull’s eye!), and I never take it lying down! I don’t dress my response up as something else, as my intention IS to challenge…why pretend otherwise? I HAVE had to work on my delivery, over 23 years as an intuitive consultant. I DO recognise when my approach hasn’t been up to my own standards. It hurts to acknowledge, but if we can’t talk honestly with ourselves, we’re in trouble. I know what my ACTUAL intention and motivation is, behind everything I say and do. I could possibly lie to the world, but I can’t lie to me…it’s an inside job and I know too much! But I have also set my own boundaries out there, which have developed over years of self analysis, blood, sweat and tears…and those boundaries make it simple, and keep me right. There’s a degree of leeway, but generally, those who stomp all over those boundaries don’t get back inside. It isn’t defensiveness, it is common sense. We can’t be something to everyone. We can’t develop a personality that suits every other human being on the planet. There has to be a cut – off point, for all of us, otherwise misery ensues. We end up at the bottom of the pile, be it made up of family, friends or customers, which is a lose – lose situation.
Recently, I was shopping in a supermarket I use several times a week. It isn’t the cheapest, or the best, but it is convenient. There are consistent, ongoing problems with this supermarket that everyone grumbles about, and on this particular day I was in a grump, and so I allowed a bag of hash browns (or lack of), and the assistant’s unwillingness to go in the back of the store and get some for me (because they were at the bottom of a pile), to cause me to rant to the new manager. I was speaking so quickly I felt as if I was firing bullets at him, but couldn’t seem to stop myself. I wasn’t rude, and I did acknowledge the helpful, friendly staff members, but still, I was cross. The fact that the store often had special offers on (a pound off this, or two for the price of one) that were not honoured at the till, was my main bugbear. I had to always check my receipt, and many times had to return to the till because I had been overcharged. And what about all those people who DON’T check their receipts, I demanded? He listened, calmly and politely, and then agreed with everything I had said. He explained that he had been given the job in order to try and turn the store around, and that it would take about six months to bring everything up to where it should be. He also went into the back and rooted out a bag of hash browns for me. I left with a huge smile on my face, wishing him the absolute best, but more than that I was impressed by his approach. My criticisms were valid, and not spiteful, but he could have met them with defensiveness. I left the store feeling as if I had been in the presence of someone wise, someone who could and would get the job done. There is something comforting and uplifting about that.
Those who criticise at the drop of a hat, those who consistently blame others, those who stick the boot in and then stick it in again when the recipient challenges them, are always going to be nightmares to deal with…and behind their behaviour lies defensiveness and self – protection. They are automatically making the world wrong so that they can believe they are right. It isn’t honesty (as they will often claim), it is deflection. You can’t argue with them, you will only get sucked in, chewed up and spat out. Nip it in the bud, and get out of their space, tout suite.
However, some criticism is necessary, and we need to learn how to deliver it, and how to accept it. Otherwise we won’t grow. Our ego doesn’t like it one bit, and so we have to talk to it, explaining that although it hurts, this particular nugget is actually good for us. And again, we have to remind our ego that the two things that matter the most are INTENTION and MOTIVATION, filtered through self – awareness, and measured up against personal honesty! If we remember that, we can always hold our head high!